Unsung heroes (and heroines!). Marginalized outsiders able to accomplish great things. These are the kind of stories I love — especially when the stories happen to be true.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly is just such a story. It’s a true account of black, female mathematicians who made enormous contributions to American aeronautics and the space program. At a time when blacks and women were mostly shut out of top-level jobs, the story of black women performing such jobs makes for truly inspiring reading.
Although there were many black women working at the national aeronautics laboratory in Hampton, Virginia, author Margot Lee Shetterly chooses to focus on four of them. In addition to their undoubted brain power, you will admire these women for the strength and courage they displayed in the face of much on-the-job racial discrimination.
Shetterly has done a first-class research job in tracking down this story. Her writing style is rather scholarly and I must admit that I think a more lively and engaging style would help draw readers into the story more readily.
I am eagerly awaiting watching the movie, starring Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer. The library has ordered multiple copies and I have placed a hold (it’s a long, long list — obviously lots of other interested people out there). Hidden Figures was nominated for a best picture Oscar, though it didn’t win. That is, unless poor Warren Beatty made a SECOND mistake up there in February!